Anyone who has read my writings for more than a couple years knows that I am a fan of the movies. I can’t say I like the horror stuff much as it seems (to me) to simply be a challenge to the special effects people to see how realistic (or over the top) they can make the blood and gore. I like the action adventure stuff but only if it has some realism in the weapons and tactics. The guys with revolvers that shoot 30 rounds before reloading just don’t get it for me. One of the things I enjoy doing most as I watch what I consider to be entertaining, is thinking about how some of the key quotes – often used as catch-phrases to promote the movie – can be applied to today’s world in some way. Just for fun, this week I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorite movie quotes from (mostly) recent movies and how I think they might apply to today’s world. Here we go…
What the hell are we doing in Key West?
Running Scared, spoken by Billy Crystal to Gregory Hines
One of the things I have kind of harped on to police officers I’ve trained is the need for time off; time to relax; time to try NOT to be a cop. Since being a police officer is often more of a lifestyle than a job, that’s very hard to do. In the original movie Running Scard, Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines play a couple of big city cops determined to put a recently-released-from-jail drug dealer back in the joint. When their captain feels that they aren’t making the best decisions in the world, he sends them on mandatory vacation. In fact, he threatens to have them arrested if he finds them in the city and shot if he finds them in the station house. The scene switches to the two detectives drinking in a seedy looking bar. The scene is dark and gloomy and it is easy to imagine that it’s a bar in some run down side of the city where the captain is less likely to find them. Instead, as they leave the bar, you see how sunny it is and they look really out of place in their long pants and shirts. What the hell are we doing in Key West? asks Billy Crystal’s character. It’s as far south as we could get without having to speak Spanish, replies Hines’ character. It is a light hearted moment in the middle of a movie full of action and dark humor. Again, it just goes to show you: cops have to have time off.
No. This is MY town.
Walking Tall, (remake) spoken by Dwayne Johnson (The Rock)
Recently returned home military veteran Chris Vaughn finds his home town over-run by drugs, seemingly as a result of the town’s main economic facility no longer being the lumber mill, but instead replaced by a casino. A high school “friend” of Vaughn’s owns the casino and is using the old lumber mill as a drug manufacturing / packaging plant. Vaughn runs for sheriff and wins only to take on the drug business in town. One thing that the primary bad guy says a couple times throughout the movie is how he owns the town and Vaughn being the sheriff won’t change anything. After the climactic fight scene in the lumber mill at the end of the movie, as both characters are bloody and bruised, when Chris Vaughn wins the fight arrests the bad guy, he speaks this line. It is a good line delivered with strength by a big guy playing the part of a larger than life character who has just overcome evil in a good little town.
At my signal, unleash hell.
Gladiator, spoken by Russell Crowe
What more can be said? A commanding general giving an order immediately prior to the beginning of a battle. He takes no pleasure in “unleashing hell” but knows that if he is to accomplish his mission – winning the battle with a sound victory – there exists no room for mercy or forgiveness. Defeating his enemy is his goal and he will do what is necessary to accomplish that. It is an outlook and a lesson that our elected leadership needs to understand better in the country today. Too often – ever since the early ’70s – our political leaders keep a leash on our military leaders, causing us to look ineffectual in warfare. We need to stop that.
When engaged in combat, the vanquishing of thine enemy can be the warrior’s only concern…
Kill Bill Vol. 1, spoken by Sonny Chiba playing Hattori Hanzo
The same outlook as immediately above but applied to the personal level. If you’re in a fight for your life then victory should be your only thought. AFTER the enemy is dead you can feel guilty, remorseful, sorrow, whatever. But to feel any of that you have to first WIN the fight. Otherwise it’ll be the enemy that has the option of feeling any of that.
Die Hard, spoken by Bruce Willis
Who didn’t cheer when John McClane spoke that line? Here you have a cop, working by himself, against more than a dozen terrorists/robbers, and showing that he’s not intimidated in the least. The line is both a challenge and a quiet battle cry. For sure and certain it puts the terrorst leader on notice that 1) the cop ain’t afraid even a little bit, and 2) the fightin’ is about to begin. In truth it already had. The statement also displays a certain level of contempt on John McClane’s part too. There is a level of dark humor underlaying the line. It is a sense of humor that many cops and soldiers can appreciate although many others might not.
To piss off the captain
SWAT, spoken by Samuel L. Jackson
When Jim Street asked Lt. Harrelson (Hondo) why he picked Street for the newly formed SWAT team, Hondo’s answer was simple: To piss off the captain. Anyone who has seen the movie knows that the line isn’t about Hondo having used Street in any way. It was about doing something – that accomplishes a greater goal – but with the primary motivation of pissing off a useless administrator. Even Street appreciates and enjoys the thought. However, in the asking of the question and the answering in such a blunt way, the bond between Hondo and Street grows so that a leader / asst leader relationship is formed. No, it’s not a formal thing. But with Street’s background in SWAT, the similar military backgrounds of the characters in question and all else that happened previously to that moment, it becomes clear that Hondo views Street as the leader of the team when Hondo isn’t around. Such moments happen all the time in real life and are of high value to any para-military unit.
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